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Stardate 2011.08.30 (Tuesday) - Pi & POEL's European Vacation

posted Sep 12, 2011, 12:59 PM by Anant Narayanan   [ updated Sep 13, 2011, 1:15 PM ]

Whew!  Now that the work is done, it is time for a vacation.  Gabriel went back to his summer life on the beach, Minyoung went to the United Kingdom, as planned, and Rohit stopped in Europe on his way back from India.  However hard he tried, Rohit just could not escape Pi and POEL in his travels - see the pictures below.  Help!  Is this a Moonbots nightmare or is he auditioning for Groundhog day?


Heidelberg's Student Prison (pictured above)

From the time of its foundation, Heidelberg University exercised legal jurisdiction over its students.  Thus, infringements against regulations goveming the code of conduct of its members could not be punished by the city authorities.  If a constable of the law apprehended a student for a supposed offence, the culprit had first to show documentation proving his affiliation to the University and then provide his address.  The incident would then be reported to the University.  After receiving a summons and attending a hearing, the student would be sentenced according to the severity of his misdemeanour.  Punishment usually took the form of confinement in the University jail for a period ranging from 24 hours to 4 weeks.  As the 19th century progressed, 'doing time' in the Student Prison (Karzer) became less and less onerous; indeed, it became something of a matter of honour for most students to have experienced at least one stint of prison life while studying in Heidelberg.  The most common offences included disturbing the peace at night by loud singing in the city lanes, inappropriate behaviour in public as a result of inebriation, and participation in illegal fencing duels.  Budding academics seemingly had a particular foible for nocturnal raids aimed at releasing the pigs and piglets penned up in the Old City and then driving the squealing animals through the streets.  Students could easily end up in the Karzer if they insulted a uniformed local constable (called an Amtmann in those days) proudly walking his beat.  Those unwise enough to knock his cap off with a stick or to enjoy a good laugh at his expense soon found themselves behind bars.  Such misdeeds were considered to amount to obstructing a police officer during the course of his duty and were punished with 4 weeks of incarceration.

The Student Prison occupied the top floor of the Beadle's House from 1712 until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.  Before this, it had been situated below the staircase in the Old University Building, but this cold and damp location proved unsuitable owing to the potential risks to the inmates' health.  On the storey housing the prison, there was no water supply (this had to be brought from the well in the courtyard) or cooking facilities.  On the first 2 days of confinement, prisoners were given only bread and water.  After this, students could have food brought in from outside, and even beer, if they so desired.  The cells were provided with hard beds with straw mattresses.  Internees had to pay for the use of pillows, covers and sheets, or bring their own.  The only other furniture comprised a couple of tables and stools.  While 'inside', the students whiled away the time by playing cards, and many carved their names on tables.  They could freely visit fellow-convicts in neighbouring cells and even use a connecting door to enter the University to attend lectures.  However, they were forbidden to leave the building.  The detainees spent much of their time decorating the prison's stairway as well as the walls and ceilings of their cells.  Their favourite subjects were silhouette profiles of fellow-students, the coats-of-arms and monograms of their student associations (most students were members of such organizations at this time), the date of their confinement and various humorous comments.  For black 'paint', they used candle-smuts or soot from the fireplace.  As time went on, they brought paints in with them.  In addition, photographs showing prisoners in the uniform of their student associatlon were inserted into doors under glass.  The students' names for the various rooms included Solitude, Palais Royale and Sanssouci.  The 'King's Throne' was the fanciful name of the smallest and most private room in the prison.

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